It’s a really good value to have Bruce introduce you; that only cost me $20. This is going to be an unusual speech for me because I have no projector, no laptop; I’m not going to show anything fancy because I think that will underscore my message about the way technology is going, in regards to websites and search engine optimization. The point is that people get caught up in number of visits, ranking, online marketing, and all of the specifics, social media and how all these things play in together. It’s really missing the point, because what that is all about is in connecting people and driving new business. In that regard, the more technical aspects of search engine optimization, while important to learn, should not be discounted, in terms of their value to your business.
It’s becoming more of a game where messaging, branding, and connection between people and institutions is growing in importance. Those are very nebulous terms and I don’t want to leave you with that as a ‘Okay. What do I do? How do I brand myself?’ It’s a huge question, and there’s a lot of room for interpretation out there. I wanted to give you guys some really practical methods that you can apply to your own businesses and use in, not just the web, but in collateral material, print material, and also in how you approach business as individuals going forward. It comes down to a few staple ideas that will allow you to move forward in a healthy way.
The first thing: When I first ran across mission statements, I thought they were baloney; I thought they were bull crap. Mission statements, our mission statement is to make a lot of money; that’s what we’re here for, right? I was raised by an entrepreneur and he has slowly made some inroads in me; I’m a slow learner, with a concept called ethical persuasion. This was the mechanism that allowed him as a businessperson to pursue sales in the real world and do it with honor, integrity, and dignity. The idea of mission statements and ethical persuasion fit hand-in-glove. This is a statement of how you intend to do business, what your goals are as a business, and what you really want people to be able to take away from having an encounter with you as a businessperson.
Actually the exercise of putting this in writing and putting it on your website is a very healthy thing. It forces you to sit down and think about what does my business mean to me and what do I want my business to mean to other people? This is one of the great opportunities for you to find out what it is you really believe in and how you need to communicate that because that’s a value proposition. A value proposition, every company has their own unique value proposition. It’s the thing that differentiates them in the marketplace. There’s more than one auto shop out there. Mike’s Auto has succeeded in defining themselves in a way that brings in a certain clientele. They’ve been able to do it for years, and it really comes from everything they do. Every one of our businesses has this to offer. It’s what differentiates us from the huge corporations. Let me tell you, the huge corporations have mission statements. They’re following a path that is clearly defined and that they have made great efforts to elucidate.
The next thing I want to talk about is personas. These are the classes of people that could be your potential customers, and this also includes people that can be referral sources as opposed to direct customers. It’s important to sit down and think about, these are the kinds of clientele that I want to go for. You write what’s essentially a biography of who this person is, what their values are, and how the message that you need in order to connect to them. It’s like I’m looking for homeowners of a specific price range of home and you can then determine geographically where those people are and you can craft a message that speaks to them, and start using that in all of your advertisement, in all of your online presence in your efforts to market even in a networking group.
The next point is that search engine algorithms are getting so sophisticated that they can detect synonyms for words, so the use of, or forcing the use of, keywords into your website copy is no longer necessary. It can even theoretically in the long- term harm you. You should write a naturalistic language. You write for human beings and people, not for search engines. You should write in a way that is emotional, evocative, and that really follows your mission statement and addresses the personas that you have identified as valuable to your businesses.
Then my next point is, don’t be afraid to ask for testimonials. It’s still about people and human beings. People need to feel that if they’re doing business with your business, that they are part of a larger community in which they can see people like themselves, or maybe at an even higher station, have made the decision to interact with your company and have been willing to talk about it. Mike’s Auto is another good example of this. We work with them on a monthly basis is why I can use them as an example; I’m very familiar with what they do. They essentially do an outtake interview with their clients when they’re done with the work. They ask them if this was a positive experience. If the people agree to it, they take their picture, they take a quotation from each client as they finish, and work that, integrate that into their website in a search engine optimized way, as we’ve trained them to do. It’s led to great success for them and for their most valuable keywords, they’ve been locked in 1 or 2 ranking position for quite a while now, and I think it’s been beneficial for them.
Another thing is that among the technological tools, there are some very interesting and worthwhile things to look at like call tracking. This is where the person who comes to your site, whether they come through a print advertisement, a search engine result, or a pay-per-click ad. Call tracking gives them an individualized number that they then call in on. The call is recorded so that you can go back and listen to your sales process. You can listen to your front desk; you can listen to your sales people. We have a big client in Beverly Hills who does drug and alcohol treatment center. They changed their whole phone queue based on what they started hearing on the recorded calls. They realized that it was too many layers between human beings connecting to human beings, so they essentially chopped down their phone tree to make it much more direct and easy process for human beings to connect with human beings.
Then the last point is that everyone should look at their website as their own personal television station. The web is going incredibly video-oriented. People are sitting in the DMV killing time. They’re not reading stuff on a small device, but they are watching videos on small devices. It’s becoming more video-centric as time goes on, and it’s affordable now to do video more than it ever has been.
Those are the points that I wanted to make today. Of course, we can help you with all of those things. The website is really a great central gathering point for all of these technologies and ideas. We would love to help your business thrive in the coming year. Are there questions?
Marc Winger of Zephyr Networks: Just a shout-out, I guess. If you have trouble coming up with content, he’s got a program that’ll help you build your content, and it’s worked pretty well for me. I find myself lacking for words sometimes and that makes him amazing. It’s definitely worthwhile to contract that part of thing out and you can update stuff. I’m not as good as John Lavitt over there, who’s come up with some great ideas.
Thank you very much. I appreciate your time.
Check out my website, open-interactive.com, for samples of my work or give me a call at 949.722.6119.